Microsoft, am I a pirate for buying used games?

[Update: For much better coverage, see Wired’s Game | Life, a follow-up on Kotaku and CVG. Or, really, most gaming sites by now.]

Dear Microsoft,

I buy used games. I am a relatively poor student and I cannot afford the latest $60 game. Do you plan on labeling me a pirate?

My solution is to wait. I try to avoid spoilers from Twitter and other sources when the latest game comes out. I save my money and I buy the game once others are done with it, once they have had their go. And then, months or even years later, I join the conversation after many others have had their say and stated their points. I wait for my turn to play.

Yet, the latest news and speculations say that you want to stop piracy by preventing or even curtailing the playing of used games. To put to you bluntly: why? If you do this, you are saying that the used game market is equal to piracy. You are saying that I am, in fact, a pirate for buying used games.

By preventing the play of used games, or even tying the games to one account, you prevent me from playing your games. You prevent me from playing my friend’s games. You prevent me from sharing and selling  my own games with others. You stop services like GameFly and other video game rental services. In short, you break the ecosystem. You are saying that these toys are yours and only select people, when you say so, can play with them.

It’s your console and you are concerned about piracy. I understand. I’m a programmer. I understand the need to keep intellectual property protected in software. I agree that some measures should be taken to prevent theft. But I also understand that you cannot prevent piracy. You can only delay it.

Don’t do this, Microsoft. Don’t make me a pirate for using your system and buying used games for it. I want to use the system. I like the Xbox 360 despite generally being a Linux user. I enjoy playing games on it and I like the integration of various music and video systems on it.

If you do this, if you make me a pirate for paying for games, I will become the role. I will continue to buy used games and I will simply choose to overwrite your software to keep playing. I will break your EULA — and I won’t tell you about it. If you say I am pirate, I will become one.

I want to play, let me do so.

Probably a pirate,
Dan Cox